The veteran running back market has been eerily quiet during this free agent frenzy, but Marion Barber has broken through by inking a two year deal with the Chicago Bears. While this signing may fly under the radar in some fantasy circles, it carries with it some distinct value changes in dynasty leagues. We examine the dynasty landscape left in the wake of the Barbarian choosing the Windy City.
Marion Barber, RB CHI
Barber enjoyed an up and down career in Dallas. After an average rookie season in 2005, he burst onto the scene in 2006 with 654 rushing yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns on just 135 carries. He followed that up with solid seasons from 2007-2009, gaining a total of 2,792 yards and adding 24 more rushing touchdowns. At one point, Barber was considered a solid first round pick in dynasty leagues.
The lasting effects of Barber’s bruising running style showed up last season when he gained just 374 yards on 113 carries, good for a putrid yards per carry average of just 3.3. It was clear that he was simply not the same runner he used to be. Simply put, the combination of injuries and big hits have taken away the burst and explosiveness he once had.
Barber’s arrival in Chicago needs to be viewed as pure insurance for Matt Forte and nothing else. Make no mistake, Barber will join the Bears to replace Chester Taylor as the backup, not challenge Forte for meaningful playing time. An injury to Forte is the only thing that make Barber a meaningful fantasy performer again. He’s simply a handcuff to Forte owners at this point in his career.
Matt Forte, RB CHI
Forte’s value is still safe after this signing. It would be a shock if the Bears run out some type of committee featuring Forte and Barber. Forte is much more dynamic and explosive and is the real focal point of the Bears offense. Barber will be used sparingly to give him a breather and that’s really the extent of it.
Forte should be drafted and viewed as a borderline RB1 with tremendous upside as one of the few good offensive weapons the Bears can deploy.
Chester Taylor, RB CHI
Remember when he was brought into Minnesota and exploded for 1,216 yards in 2006? Some thought the Vikings were beign irresponsible by drafting Adrian Peterson the year after because Taylor was such a great weapon.
Boy, does that look ridiculous now.
Taylor’s yards per carry average has dropped in each of the last four seasons from a career high of 5.4 in 2007 to an almost impossible 2.4 last year – that makes Marion Barber’s totals look like something from Barry Sanders. Taylor’s time in Chicago is likely up with Barber in town. His career may also be in serious jeopardy with all the veteran backs still sitting out there in the free agent market. He can be safely dropped in dynasty leagues.
Felix Jones, RB DAL
With Barber out of the mix, Jones should have little trouble carving out his niche in Dallas. The big question is what that actually will be. With Tashard Choice and rookie DeMarco Murray in town, he may never really become the featured back that so many dynasty owners want him to be.
Tashard Choice, RB DAL
The departure of Barber should solidify a roster spot for Choice. He should still be on rosters in deep dynasty leagues with the hope he lands in a good spot next season as a free agent.
DeMarco Murray, RB DAL
Barber’s exit should solidify a roster spot for Murray. However, his fragile nature is already apparent as he’s out for a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury. This missed time won’t help him battle Jones for significant carries or Choice for the backup role. He’s a solid rookie pick, but the risk with him is apparent.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK